AMERICA'S MOST WANTED LOOKS
AT S. FLORIDA KILLING (4/3/07)
AMERICA'S MOST WANTED LOOKS AT
S. FLORIDA KILLING
A spokeswoman for the Fox TV show couldn't say whether producers had concrete plans to run a segment on the March 23 killing of Randi Gorenberg on Saturday's episode, but that "either way, this one was on our radar."
"We are looking at the case," correspondent Angeline Hartmann said. "That one seems to be getting media attention."
On Monday, an America's Most Wanted crew was in Palm Beach County interviewing detectives and touring the last places Gorenberg visited before she was shot in the head and her body dumped from a black Mercedes GL-450 sport utility vehicle in the middle of the day.
So far, sheriff's detectives found video from a surveillance camera that shows Gorenberg, 52, leaving the Boca Raton Town Center Mall at 1:16 p.m., wearing shoes, carrying a purse and talking on a cell phone.
Detectives think she made it safely to her vehicle but don't know what happened to her during the next 38 minutes.
At 1:54 p.m. witnesses heard shots coming from a two-lane road between the South County Civic Center and Gov. Lawton Chiles Memorial Park, which is east of Jog Road on Morikami Park Road. They also saw Gorenberg being pushed from the passenger side of the Mercedes.
Witnesses called for help, but Gorenberg, who was missing her Puma sneakers and brown Kooba purse, was dead when paramedics arrived.
A sheriff's community service aide found the SUV, which is registered to Gorenberg's husband, Fort Lauderdale chiropractor Stewart Gorenberg, at a nearby Home Depot hours later. Surveillance video showed the Mercedes entering the parking lot about 1:59 p.m.
Also last week, investigators searched Gorenberg's home in the Boniello Acres community west of Boca Raton. The Sheriff's Office also searched a retention pond behind the Home Depot in hopes of finding the murder weapon but came up empty.
Detectives are following up on leads, Sheriff's Capt. Jack Strenges said, but they are hoping the national attention generated from America's Most Wanted will help them nab Gorenberg's killer faster.
"We reached out to them," Strenges said. "They were interested because of the high-profile nature of the case."
America's Most Wanted airs Saturdays at 9 p.m. on WFLX-Ch. 29 and on WSVN-Ch. 7.
Anyone with information is asked to call Sheriff's Sgt. Rick McAfee at 561-688-4012 or Crime Stoppers at 800-458-8477.
Chrystian Tejedor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 561-243-6645.
SUV SCOURED FOR MURDER CLUES
Gorenberg's killer threw her from the SUV onto a two-lane road between the South County Civic Center and Gov. Lawton Chiles Memorial Park, which is east of Jog Road on Morikami Park Road.
Aside from the bullet casing, detectives found a sales receipt, a "baseball-style cap," a CD, a yellow shirt and four dryer sheets.
Investigators have also searched Gorenberg's home, which is west of Boca Raton, and a retention pond behind a home-improvement store where the killer abandoned the SUV.
SHOOTING VICTIM'S VEHICLE TWICE
SEARCHED FOR CLUES
Randi Gorenberg , 52, is believed to have been shot inside the vehicle, then pushed into a street behind the South County Civic Center in suburban Delray Beach on March 23. The bloodstained vehicle was found later behind a Home Depot. An autopsy found that Gorenberg had been shot in the left temple. "Obviously, the killer was inside that vehicle," said sheriff's spokesman Paul Miller. "Anything we find in there could be critical to the case. It's a work in progress."
Investigators were searching for DNA, blood, hair, latent fingerprints and other evidence that could lead them to Gorenberg's killer. They took 52 swabs of potential DNA sites in a March 24 search of the SUV, and three more in a search four days later, according to search warrant documents submitted by investigators. Seven latent fingerprints also were taken in the first search.
Gorenberg was last seen alive by her husband, Stewart, at 5:30 a.m. when he left for work the day she was slain, sheriff's investigators say. Her son, Daniel, 24, last saw her alive at 8:45 a.m. that day.
Stewart Gorenberg, 52, said he spoke again to his wife on the phone between 10 and 11 a.m. A video at Town Center Mall, where she went shopping, showed her talking on or listening to her cellphone at 1:16 p.m. Thirty-eight minutes later, she was lying dead in the roadway, about 4 miles from the mall. Randi Gorenberg 's cellphone, shoes and purse have not been found.
The Gorenberg family is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in her slaying. Anybody with information should call sheriff's Detective John Cogburn at (561) 688-4063.
Meanwhile, America's Most Wanted has been in the area filming a segment on the mystery. And Fox News analyst Greta Van Susteren also may feature the case.
Staff writer Michael LaForgia contributed to this story.
TV segment on slain mother to be featured on Saturday
America's Most Wanted confirmed Thursday that a segment on a slain West Boca mother will be aired Saturday.
Randi Gorenberg , 52, was shot March 23 on a two-lane road between the South County Civic Center and Gov. Lawton Chiles Memorial Park, which is east of Jog Road on Morikami Park Road. Her killer then threw her from her black Mercedes GL-450.
On Friday, Palm Beach County sheriff's detectives will canvass shops and businesses from Boca Raton's Town Center mall to the home improvement store where the Mercedes SUV was found.
Investigators have searched the vehicle, a retention
pond and her home west of Boca Raton for evidence. America's Most Wanted
airs 9 p.m. Saturday on WFLX-Ch. 29 and WSVN-Ch. 7.
`SHOCKING' KILLING GETS MORE ATTENTION
- CASE TO AIR TONIGHT ON MOST WANTED
On Friday, though no new information was offered, the Sheriff's Office held a news conference to say 25 detectives were canvassing the area of Gorenberg's final hour, looking for witnesses.
Although Gorenberg is the fifth homicide this year the Sheriff's Office is investigating, it is one of the most shocking, Capt. Jack Strenges said.
The Sheriff's Office has alerted the media to a search in the retention pond behind the Home Depot and a search warrant of her home, each of which offered no new details to the public. In a news conference at the Sheriff's Office on March 30, Gorenberg's daughter and mother gave an emotional plea to the public for help.
The homicide case has garnered the attention of the national media.
On The Record With Greta Van Susteren aired an interview with Sheriff's Sgt. Rick McAfee about the case Tuesday. At 9 p.m. today on Fox, America's Most Wanted will air a 3-minute synopsis of the case.
"This is something that really came out of nowhere," Strenges said. "Not that the gang murders don't shock the conscious of the community [but] this was in broad daylight to a well-heeled woman in a luxury vehicle. That's pretty shocking."
When someone gets killed at night in a dangerous neighborhood and there may be drugs involved, murder isn't a surprising outcome, Strenges said. There is no motive or suspect in the Gorenberg case.
"Any woman shot in the head in her SUV is the kind of crime anyone reading thinks about the randomness of it and thinks it could happen to anybody," said Richard Mangan, a criminal justice professor at Florida Atlantic University. "And you can't have that kind of fear in the public....You need to let the public know what you're doing to make this not happen again. When you work quietly, a lot of people think you've done nothing at all."
There are several elements and reasons to bring the steps of a homicide investigation out to the public, said Boca Raton clinical, forensic and police psychologist Laurence Miller.
"Rich people aren't supposed to get killed that way and little babies aren't supposed to be killed that way," he said.
There's also the "squeaky wheel denomination," Miller said.
When a community shows interest and is cooperative, the police become more proactive, he said.
In wealthy areas, police are seen "as servants of the people to come to protect them," Miller said. "In other neighborhoods, police are considered adversarial. There's much less interaction with police officers and the police are going to respond in kind."
Gorenberg family members have been cooperative with investigators, even offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to arrests. Gorenberg's sobbing mother, Idey Elias, thanked detectives during the news conference.
Public awareness and witnesses are crucial to criminal investigations, said Sheriff's Office spokesman Paul Miller.
"If the [media] is interested and the public's interested, we want to take advantage of that," he said. "We all would like to see this end in the arrest of this murderer."
Anyone with information should call Sgt. Rick McAfee at 561-688-4012 or Crime Stoppers at 800-458-8477.
Staff Researcher William Lucey contributed to this report.
Jerome Burdi can be reached at email@example.com
MURDER PUZZLES, HAUNTS OFFICIALS
For investigators, the particulars have proved as puzzling as they are terrible. At 1:54 p.m. March 23, a man saw a black Mercedes SUV brake near the entrance to Gov. Lawton Chiles Memorial Park west of Delray Beach, heard two gunshots and saw Randi Gorenberg pushed to the road as the SUV sped away.
She had been shot in the left temple.
About an hour later, authorities found the bloodstained Mercedes abandoned behind Home Depot, less than 2 miles away. The killer had disappeared.
Fifteen days have passed and detectives still haven't identified a motive, much less a suspect.
Footage from a security camera captured Gorenberg as she was leaving the Town Center mall of Boca Raton 38 minutes before her murder. Five minutes after she was shot, a Home Depot camera recorded her Mercedes, which has dark, tinted windows, pulling through the store's parking lot.
Nobody got a look at the killer.
The detectives' frustration has grown with each passing day.
Capt. Jack Strenges said investigators have discounted no theories so far. The murder, he said, could have been anything from a carjacking to the work of a stalker who had been studying Gorenberg's movements for days.
On March 30, Gorenberg's mother and daughter went before TV cameras to beg for help in solving the murder.
Meanwhile, the detectives on Sgt. Rick McAfee's five-man squad, which initially was assigned to investigate, have worked two weeks without a break. Working with about seven other investigators, they've scoured the SUV and served a search warrant on the Gorenbergs' 7,000 square-foot home in suburban Boca Raton, but they still haven't found Gorenberg's Puma sneakers - she was found in her socks - her $600 Kooba purse or her cellphone.
At the end of each night, McAfee has gathered with his detectives - John Cogburn, Chris Karpinski, Wilhelm Prieschel, Sean Oliver and Fred Rifflard - at the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office headquarters, and they put their heads together.
Still, they've struggled to come up with an explanation.
"That's the most frustrating thing about it, there's no clear-cut, 'Yes, we think it was this, yes we think it was that,' " McAfee said. "Even when we're not working, even when we're on our off-time, we're still thinking about this case."
To stay sane, the detectives occasionally play little jokes on each other, the sergeant said. Under this kind of pressure, nothing beats spilling a glass of water on your partner's chair, watching him sit down and then laughing as he cusses out the entire room.
It's difficult to stay distracted for long. He tries not to think about it, but McAfee and his detectives are aware of the mounting pressure.
"This is the type of case that your career as a homicide detective could be judged on," he said.
And then there's the other sort of frustration that comes with trying to solve a murder, McAfee said. To be a homicide detective is to come to work every day and puzzle over the very worst of what humanity is capable of. Ultimately, these investigations always end in more questions.
"You just wonder, why?" he said. "What would cause that? What would cause a person to do that to another human being?"
Randi Gorenberg 's final moments
About 20 detectives on Friday searched for witnesses in the murder of 52-year-old Randi Gorenberg , who was shot in the head March 23 and dropped from her black SUV. Two weeks have passed and still investigators have no suspects and haven't identified a motive.
Security cameras capture Randi Gorenberg leaving the Town Center of Boca Raton.
A witness hears gunshots and sees Gorenberg pushed from a black SUV.
Authorities find the bloodstained SUV abandoned behind Home Depot.
Source: Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office.
In reference to the Randi Gorenberg murder, Boca Raton clinical, forensic and police psychologist Laurence Miller stated, "Rich people aren't supposed to get killed that way and little babies aren't supposed to be killed that way." I feel that no one -- rich, poor, young, old -- is supposed to get killed that way.
CBS' 48 Hours Mystery will feature a segment Saturday
night on the Boca Raton shooting that left Heather Grossman a quadriplegic.
This mystery is solved, though. Ronald Samuels was convicted last year
of hiring drug addicts to kill Grossman, his ex-wife. The program will
feature interviews with Samuels, the shooter and Grossman. Samuels is
serving a life sentence. The killing of Randi Gorenberg , the 52-year-old
wife and mother who was shot in the head March 23 and dumped in a park
west of Delray Beach, will be a topic tonight on The Lineup on Fox News.
The unsolved case has already been featured on America's Most Wanted
and On the Record with Greta Van Susteren. Tonight's show airs at 10
A FAMILY'S MYSTERY: WHY HER?
Malitz, 56, who works for the Institute of Education Sciences in Washington, had just gotten home from an evening out with his wife when the phone rang. "They've killed Randi," said his mother, Idey Elias, from Florida.
"Your sister," she said. "They've killed your sister."
"Who killed my sister?" Malitz said.
In the coming days, Malitz's mother and niece, Gorenberg's daughter, would fall apart in front of TV cameras as they begged for help in solving the murder.
Meanwhile, Malitz said he logged on to Internet message boards and read anonymous postings that cast suspicion on Gorenberg's husband, Stewart, even while the man grieved for his wife.
From his office on K Street in Washington, Malitz dismissed the rumors. His sister didn't even have a life insurance policy, he said.
"I can honestly say it was nothing but happiness, laughter, fun, nice kidding around, that I've seen between Randi and Stew," Malitz said. "Randi never spoke to me about any issues.
"I don't think that's at all conceivable that he could have anything to do with it. That's unthinkable to me."
Gorenberg's husband and children declined to be interviewed for this story through their attorney, Guy Fronstin.
Malitz described his sister's life, and her family's desolation after her death.
In Gorenberg's eulogy on March 27, Malitz remembered walking hand-in-hand with his sister to school at Public School 208 in the East Flatbush section of Brooklyn. He recalled the wrestling matches they used to have while their parents were at work.
They spent their summers at Camp Impala in Woodburn, N.Y., where Gorenberg made an impression on her fellow campers.
Alan Finkel, Gorenberg's camp counselor for archery, rifle range and pioneering, remembers her as "a skinny kid with dark, short hair, just bouncing and smiling."
"She was a bubbly kid," said Finkel, 55.
Eventually, Malitz left for college in Washington; his younger sister stayed in Brooklyn, where she met Stewart Gorenberg at a hangout called The Alley.
The couple married in 1979 and moved to Davenport, Iowa, where Stewart finished chiropractic school before moving with his wife to suburban Boca Raton.
They had two children, Daniel and Sarie, and Randi Gorenberg 's mother, Elias, moved to suburban Delray Beach to be near her daughter and grandchildren.
In Florida, Gorenberg was a wife and mother.
Even a stranger could tell how kind and devoted she was to her family, said Pam Kresse, who appraised the Gorenbergs' house for a new homeowners insurance policy about a month ago.
"You've got to see my pantry," Gorenberg told Kresse. The appraiser figured Gorenberg wanted to show off new cabinets or some upscale appliance.
Instead, she opened the cupboard doors to reveal rows and rows of empty coffee cans, maybe 50 in all. Her daughter was studying to become a teacher, Gorenberg said with pride. She had been saving the cans for Sarie Gorenberg's future students.
Gorenberg loved going to the beach, her brother said. Something about the sand and the sound of the waves and the vastness of the ocean appealed to her, Malitz said. Walks were part of her daily routine, he said, and she also developed a passion for flowers, especially orchids.
She often stopped in at Starbucks for a cup of coffee, detectives would learn, and she was a regular at the bagel shop in the shopping center near where she was killed.
On the morning of March 23, Stewart Gorenberg left the family's $2.2 million home in Boniello Acres for work at about 5:30, according to a search warrant affidavit. It was the last time he would see his wife alive.
Daniel Gorenberg, 24, who lives with his parents, told investigators he last saw his mother at 8:45 a.m., the affidavit said.
Gorenberg drove the family's black Mercedes GL450 sport utility vehicle to the Town Center at Boca Raton, where she shopped at Old Navy and a music shop. She bought a John Legend album, Malitz said. A security camera captured her on her cellphone, most likely listening to a voice-mail message from a still-unidentified caller, as she left the mall from the entrance near Neiman Marcus, Malitz said.
Thirty-eight minutes later, at 1:54 p.m., a witness heard two gunshots and saw Gorenberg pushed from her Mercedes in the Gov. Lawton Chiles Memorial Park west of Delray Beach. She lay dead on the pavement, bleeding from a gunshot wound to her left temple.
At 1:59 p.m., a security camera outside Home Depot at Jog Road and West Atlantic Avenue, less than 2 miles from the crime scene, recorded Gorenberg's Mercedes driving in the parking lot.
Authorities found the blood-stained SUV behind the Home Depot an hour later. A search of the car turned up only a spent shell casing, though investigators were able to lift latent fingerprints and DNA swabs, according to court records. Tests are pending.
Missing from the car were Gorenberg's $600 Kooba purse, Puma sneakers, wallet and cellphone.
That night, a friend drove Stewart Gorenberg to Gainesville to tell his daughter, a student at the University of Florida, in person. Sarie Gorenberg, 21, already sensed something was wrong, Malitz said. She had tried again and again to reach her mom on her cellphone, but the call kept going straight to voice mail.
About a half-hour before her father reached Gainesville, Sarie Gorenberg learned about her mother's death in a text message sent to her cellphone.
Malitz and his wife, Ruth Marcus, flew into Fort Lauderdale the next afternoon and stayed for a week.
In Florida, Malitz acted as a buffer between the Gorenbergs and the rest of the world. He answered the phones, did the majority of the talking with investigators and greeted visitors at the Gorenberg home west of Boca Raton.
As friends and family gathered to mourn, Malitz noticed Allie, the family's golden retriever, waiting by the door for his sister's return. After a while, she gave up.
Each morning at about 8, Stewart Gorenberg would push into the guest bedroom where Malitz and his wife were sleeping and sit at the foot of the bed.
"I don't know what I'm going to do," he would tell them, tears welling in his eyes. "I can't believe she's gone.
"This house is Randi. Everywhere I look is Randi."
Malitz just let him talk.
So far, answers to key questions in the case have remained just beyond detectives' reach. No discernible motives and no suspects make it the archetypal murder mystery, said Sgt. Rick McAfee, whose five-man squad worked on the case for two weeks without a break. A minority of homicide cases fall into this category, he said.
Malitz returned to Washington on March 31.
There, he carefully considered every possible explanation for his sister's death.
"I've pictured this," he said. "Somebody's in the driver seat, Randi's in the passenger seat, and somebody had to have a gun right to Randi's temple."
In the end, Malitz said, he hopes the investigators discover that Gorenberg was killed as part of some plot. The alternative, that she was the victim of random violence, would be too maddening to endure.
"I don't want to think that," he said. "I don't want to think that anything she could have done would have changed what happened that day."
Staff writer Lona O'Connor contributed to this story.